My name is Emmabella Rudd, I am 18 years old, and I am a first-year student at Florida State University. I enjoy spending time with my family, going to the beach, painting and hanging out with friends in my free time. You wouldn't know it by looking at me, but I have a chronic disease that requires 24/7 monitoring and multiple injections daily to keep me alive. I have Type 1 Diabetes. I was diagnosed when I was 5 years old.
It was early October, when out of the blue I started feeling terrible, I was tired, nauseous, was using the restroom frequently, and my thirst was unquenchable. My parents noticed I was looking very thin and frail. Nothing could prepare us for the diagnosis we received at the doctors office. We didn't know too much about diabetes, we certainly didn't know how serious it was, or that it would change the way I lived my life, forever.
Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease that strikes suddenly, and leaves the individual insulin dependent for life. It is believed an environmental trigger causes the body to attack the beta cells in the pancreas leaving it no longer able to produce insulin. To stay alive, synthetic insulin must be injected into the bloodstream multiple times a day or via insulin pump.
I was admitted into the hospital for a week to stabilize my blood sugar and my parents were educated on how to care for me with this disease. They told my parents that if I would not have made it to the hospital that day, I would have not woken up the next morning. My blood glucose was 867, normal is 100. My new normal consisted of 10-12 finger pricks a day to monitor my blood glucose, and 4-6 insulin injections. When I was little, I would run and hide from my parents when it was time it get a shot, I was so scared and it hurt so much. It was hard for me to understand why this was happening.
It has been 13 years now, and I have adapted to this new normal. My fingers are so calloused, I don't feel the finger pricks anymore. I now wear an insulin pump and even though the site changes still hurt sometimes, I am used to it. I also wear a continuous glucose monitor, that monitors my blood sugar 24/7 and connects to my phone. My diabetes routine is engrained in me, it is second nature. I know how important it is for me to take good care of myself, so I can live a long healthy life. I can easily calculate the carbohydrates of a plate of food, so I can dose the correct amount of insulin for each meal or snack. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, diabetes sometimes gets the best of me.
Insulin keeps me alive, but is not a cure. Stress, illness, and hormones often raise my blood sugars to dangerously high levels that cause damage to my organs. If I catch a stomach bug or any other illness, it is a medical emergency and often have to spend a few days in the hospital. I often struggle with low blood sugars when I am active. When I am low, it makes me feel extremely ill and helpless. I am shaky, clammy, my vision is blurry, and I cannot think straight. It is very scary, and a low blood sugar can cause me to lose consciousness.